We Are All Wrong

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We hate being wrong as humans and that often clouds our judgement in different situations. Even when we are certainly wrong but have held on to a belief for so long, we let confirmation bias impede our acknowledgement of the truth that we are wrong.

In the penultimate episode of The Big Bang Theory’s season finale, the vanity card had this:

Vanity card from the big bant theory
Vanity card from the big bang theory

I read the vanity cards from most episodes of the big bang theory and I was especially happy to see that while we approached the finale, we got a very powerful message to hold with us forever as the show comes to an end.

As humans, we all build a mental model based off of our backgrounds, the things we were exposed to, and the ways our parents or guardians perceived the world. Some of those lessons and knowledge that we have acquired might have kept us long enough to the point we are but it does not exactly mean they are right. Parents are often wrong and this is something I want to keep reminding myself of when I do become a parent.

There is so much controversy and disagreement in the world because everyone believe they are right, and aren’t willing to make a shift of perspective to view how other opinions may weigh against their opinions. I’ve always said change is hard as I’ve also heard a lot of other people say and agree to that fact. If we find it hard to change very little things like our choice of music or choice of food, how much more our overall perspective on delicate matters?

A smart friend of mine gave an interesting talk at a conference on community disagreement in our software industry:

and the crux of the talk about getting along is that we have people with a great lack of empathy who constantly make decisions that hurt other people without realizing. Unfortunately, a lot of these people fail to admit how they are wrong even when they are being told. This is also because we associate being wrong with being a loser and that’s an inaccurate association. Learning in life that it takes several fails to get a win, it’s only more evident that acceptance of our wrongs is equivalent to taking a step to win. By being wrong we aren’t losers, we are losers when we fail to stop being wrong at the expense of the emotions of everyone else around us.

We learn from biblical history that it takes penitence for a sinner to transition into a saint. And as someone who chooses to learn through history rather than re-making mistakes that have repeatedly led to bad outcomes, I choose to accept that I am wrong when I realize I am. I also choose to suppress my confirmation bias.

An easy way to realize that our mental model of things might need some fine tuning is often when we get a partner or associate closely with other people such as friends or roommates. We tend to judge others about the actions they take that do not fit into the way we perceived life for the majority of our lives and they judge us too because we certainly do things that differ from the way they might have done things in their lives. We can either choose to squawk and debate about who is wrong at each other or choose to reach valuable conclusions where we both learn from each other. Although, there are cases where the conclusion is that neither of the parties will compromise to the perceptions of the other, we may also disagree in peace.

Psychoanalysis teaches that we are all wrong and we’ve always been wrong from birth. The Id is dominant in us as infants, and it takes mental growth to build a Super-ego that will balance out our wrong notions with moral and right actions. Babies bite, babies have tantrums, and as they grow older, they learn these things are wrong and do away with them. But we all know growth is physically stunted for some humans. Unfortunately, there’s mental growth stunt as well which results in adults with tantrums. A lot of this kind of adults are in abundance on social media. They come as good and as bad and we often take sides with either side of them. There are those who are definitely making wrong statements based on wrong opinions they wouldn’t concede on. There are also those who overstretch their right opinions and truths till it hurt others and seemingly becomes wrong. In the end, it’s hard to tell who is right. So we are all wrong!

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